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With great fanfare, and giddy expectations of continued diplomatic success, the so-called “P5 +1” interim agreement was announced on November 24, 2013. p1 Ostensibly, these negotiations were going to eliminate Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons, and constrain the regime’s hegemonic aspirations, including its oft-repeated bellicose threats to destroy the Jewish State of Israel.
Less than three months later, punctuated by cries of “down with the U.S.”—and “Death to Israel”—Iranians took to the streets en masse, February 11, 2014, commemorating the 35th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic putsch, which firmly re-established Iran’s legacy of centuries of Shiite theocracy, transiently interrupted by the 54-year reign (r. 1925-1979) of the 20th century Pahlavi Shahs. p2 Celebratory statements by “moderate” Iranian President Rouhani claimed Iran would pursue its nuclear program “forever,” and decried Western economic sanctions, designed specifically to forestall Iran’s nuclear weapons producing capability, as “brutal, illegal, and wrong.” p3 Major-General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a senior military aide to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened that any Israeli effort to pre-empt Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons, meant for Israel’s annihilation, would be countered by retaliatory “destruction of the Zionist regime by Hezbollah forces of Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah.” p3 Simultaneous triumphal commemorative pronouncements (from 2/11/14) included: p4
- Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehquani’s declaration that Iran’s test firing of ballistic missiles—including a long-range ballistic missile with radar-evading capabilities—was (somehow) an appropriate response to “unfounded allegations” by the U.S.
- Iranian Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari’s confirmation that Iranian warships had been deployed toward the territorial waters of the U.S. Atlantic coast. The good Admiral announced: “Iran’s military fleet is approaching the United States’ maritime borders, and this move has a message. Like the arrogant powers that are present near our maritime borders, we will also have a powerful presence close to the American [maritime] borders.”
Moreover, within eight-days after Iran’s 35th anniversary celebrations of its retrograde “Islamic revolution,” the following stories were reported:
- Iran’s chief “P5 + 1” negotiator, Muhammad Javad Zarif derided (unusually candid) comments by U.S. lead negotiator with Iran, Wendy Sherman, that if Iran’s nuclear program was only for peaceful purposes, the Islamic Republic “does not need” the fortified, underground uranium enrichment center at Fordow, or its plutonium heavy-water reactor at Arak. A defiant Zarif, referring explicitly to Sherman’s observations, opined, “Iran’s nuclear technology is non-negotiable and comments about Iran’s nuclear facilities are worthless and there is no need to negotiate or hold talks about them.” p5
- Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Aragchi stated Iran would not capitulate to pressure from the U.S. and the five other world powers to dismantle any of its nuclear facilities. p6
- Iran rejected the U.S. contention that its ballistic missile program must be included as a key component of negotiations on a permanent nuclear agreement. Abbas Aragchi stated on Iranian state television: “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s defensive issues are neither negotiable nor subject to compromise. They are definitely among our red lines in any talks. We won’t discuss any issue other than the nuclear dossier in the negotiations.” p7
- Despite such brazen Iranian intransigence, White House National Security Spokesman Caitlin Hayden revealed the Obama Administration would not interfere with Iran’s burgeoning oil sales, which are generating billions of additional revenues as economic sanctions collapse in the wake of the P5 + 1 interim deal. p8
- Ayatollah Khamenei, during an address on Iranian television, February 17, 2014, insisted it would be “impossible” to resolve the “nuclear issue,” per “U.S. expectations.” He claimed Iran had been insulted by a U.S. Senator who “takes money from Zionists in order to go to the Senate and curse the Iranian nation.” Khamenei reminded his audience, “the Americans are the enemies of the Islamic Revolution and of Iran. They are the enemies of the flag that you hold high, and these [negotiations] will not bring an end to this enmity.” p9
- President Rouhani, at an ancillary meeting with Palestinian Parliament Speaker Salim Zanoun on Wednesday 2/19/14, held during the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Inter-Parliamentary Union in Tehran, stated, “One of the wishes of the Iranian nation is liberation of the Holy Quds [Jewish Jerusalem, Israel’s capital]…the Palestinian nation and the entire Muslim world will find a serious solution to this occupation through unity and integrity.” p10
These, and many comparably alarming developments since the P5 +1 deal was announced (see Chapter 1), epitomize the abject failure of a delusive and dangerous policymaking mindset I have dubbed, “The ‘Trusting Khomeini’ Syndrome.” This “Syndrome” is named after infamous Princeton International Law Professor Richard Falk’s February 16, 1979 essay, “Trusting Khomeini,” dutifully published in the The New York Times p11 The parlous denial—born of willful doctrinal and historical negationism—evident in Falk’s February, 1979 essay, now shapes formal U.S. policy toward Iran, merely updated as “Trusting Khamenei.” I further maintain that the sine qua non of this crippling mindset—bowdlerization of Islam—currently dominates policymaking circles, running the gamut from Left to Right. The late Islamologist Maxime Rodinson warned 40-years ago of a broad academic campaign—which has clearly infected policymakers across the politico-ideological spectrum—“to sanctify Islam and the contemporary ideologies of the Muslim world.” p12 A pervasive phenomenon, Rodinson ruefully described the profundity of its deleterious consequences: p13
Understanding [of Islam] has given way to apologetics pure and simple.
A prototypical example of how this mindset has warped intellectually honest discourse about Iran by conservative analysts, was published February 17, 2014 in The Weekly Standard. p14 The essayist decried what he saw as misguided appropriation of Cold War era paradigms—“wishful thinking built around imagined Cold War analogies”—even by members of the Israeli “security establishment,” let alone their Obama Administration counterparts. p15 Although correctly dismissive of the sham notion that Iranian President “Rouhani and his crowd are moderates,” the essayist also insisted Iran’s “ayatollahs” have somehow “perverted Shia Islam with the state takeover of religion.” p16 He then ads, “the older quietist school [ostensibly of Shiite Islam] still has many adherents.” p17 These glib, distressingly uninformed pronouncements on Shiite Islam are immediately followed by the author’s own Cold War era comparisons: p18
What produced a change in Soviet behavior was the willingness of the West, led by the United States, to fight the Cold War on the ground—and the willingness to fight it ideologically…. Reagan, after all, did not allow his desire for negotiations to prevent him from saying the Soviet Union was an “evil empire”…
Thus we have a pathognomonic illustration of the author’s “imagined Cold War analogies”—views published in a flagship conservative/neoconservative journal, p19 and shared by a broad swath of like-minded conservative analysts.
What Ronald Reagan understood—and articulated—was characterized elegantly by Robert Conquest, the nonpareil historian of Communist totalitarianism’s ideology, and resultant mass murderous depredations. p20
The Soviet Union, right up to the eve of its collapse, was committed to the concept of an unappeasable conflict with the Western world and to the doctrine that this could only be resolved by what Foreign Minister Andrey [Andrei] Gromyko described as officially as one could imagine, in his 1975 book The Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union, as world revolution: “The Communist Party of the Soviet Union subordinates all its theoretical and practical activity in the sphere of foreign relations to the task of strengthening the positions of socialism, and the interests of further developing and deepening the world revolutionary process.” One could hardly be franker.
President Reagan’s seminal March, 1983 speech to the National Association of Evangelicals included this gimlet-eyed description of the “totalitarian darkness” at Communism’s ideological core: p21
…they [Communists] preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth.
Reagan’s address also invoked Communist apostate, Whittaker Chambers. Chambers’ own 1947 book review of Rebecca West’s The Meaning of Treason compared the violent fanaticism of the twentieth century’s secular totalitarian systems adherents, to the votaries of Islam. p22 The modern totalitarians expressed “new ideas” which were “violently avowed,” and p23
the hallmark of their advocates was a fanaticism unknown since the first flush of Islam.
Does Chambers’s analogy between Islam and Communism—utterly ignored in the February 17, 2014 Weekly Standard policy analysis p24—have doctrinal and historical validity? This critical question can only be answered when other related questions pertaining to Islam—in its Shiite Iranian context, and more generally (i.e., within the predominant Sunni sect)—are put forth, and addressed. Those relevant questions conclude the Preface. The remainder of this book—materials from Chapters 1-3, and the Conclusions section—will answer them.
Here are the questions:
What is the Sharia? What are the uniquely Islamic institutions of jihad, and its corollary institution, dhimmitude, and how do these institutions relate to the Sharia? What are the similarities and differences comparing Sunni (the [vast] majority sect of Islam) and Shiite (Shi’ism being Islam’s largest minority sect) doctrine on jihad and dhimmitude? What is the Shiite doctrine of najis? What are the major antisemitic motifs in Islam’s canonical texts—the Koran itself (i.e., as glossed in the major Koranic commentaries, classical and modern), as well as the “Traditions” of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, and the nascent Muslim community? What are the similarities and differences comparing Sunni and Shiite eschatology—end of times theology—and how central are the Jews to this doctrine (i.e., what is their described role, and fate?), from the Sunni and Shiite perspectives? How were these doctrines applied in Iran, and what was their effect upon the Jews of Iran, between the 16th, and early 20th centuries? Are these living doctrines, espoused and presently applied in contemporary Iran? For example, has the Sharia been applied in Iran since 1979 (especially vis-à-vis non-Muslims), and what is its current popularity in the Islamic Republic (as measured objectively, not anecdotally)? Most importantly, how is Iran’s historical application of these doctrines, in aggregate, to its Jewish minority population, relevant—and manifest—in the contemporary Islamic Republic’s posture toward Israel, and the U.S.?
What is takiya (taqiya; taqiyya), and what was the treaty of al-Hudaybiyya (al-Hudaybiyyah), and how might both be very relevant to the interim “P5 + 1” agreement?
Who was Shah Ismail, and what was his attitude towards Iran’s Jews? Who were Mohammad Baqer Majlisi, Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq Husayni Shirazi, and Hussein [Hossein] Ali Montazeri, and what were their views on jihad, dhimmitude, and najis?
What is Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an (“The measure of balance in the interpretation of the Koran”), who was its author, and what views are espoused in this “monumental” 20th century work, on jihad, dhimmitude,—and the Jews?
Finally, returning to The Weekly Standard essayist’s allusion to the “quietist school” of Shiite Islam and its “many adherents,” p25 what is Shiite “quietism,” who are exemplar Shiite “quietists,” and what are their views on the Sharia, jihad, dhimmitude, najis, and the Jews?
Andrew Bostom, February 26, 2014
p1. “Text of Iran-Powers Nuclear Deal, Obama and Zarif Statements About Iran’s Nuclear Activities” Al Jazeerah, November 23, 2013 http://bit.ly/18AJEFv
p2. Ariel Ben Solomon, “Rouhani says nuclear program ‘forever’ as Iran marks anniversary of Islamic Revolution,” Reuters, February 11, 2014 http://bit.ly/MHtyzK; For discussion of Shiite theocratic rule before and after the Pahlavi Dynasty, see Chapter Three, “The Dhimmi Condition for Iranian Jewry Under Shiite Theocratic Rule: A Half-Millennial Past as Prologue,” herein.
p3. Ben Solomon, “Rouhani says nuclear program ‘forever’ as Iran marks anniversary of Islamic Revolution”
p5. Oren Dorrell, “Nuclear talks with Iran headed for collision in Austria,” USA Today, February 17, 2014 http://usat.ly/1e33PYK
p6. “Iran says it won’t scrap any nuclear facility,” Associated Press, February 18, 2014 http://fxn.ws/1c1nyby
p7. Jay Solomon, “Iran Nuclear Talks Turn to Missiles,” The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2014 http://on.wsj.com/1gV3EDm
p8. Adam Kredo, “Iranian Oil Exports Soar as Sanctions Collapse,” The Washington Free Beacon, February 14, 2014 http://bit.ly/1jhk0Xd
p9. “Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei: I Am Not Optimistic about Nuclear Talks; US Will Continue to Be an Enemy,” The Middle East Media Research Institute, Clip No. 4154, February 17, 2014 http://bit.ly/O8ZdeZ
p10. “Rouhani: Iranian Nation Aspiring Liberation of Holy Quds,” Fars News Agency, February 19, 2014 http://bit.ly/OaY32u
p11. Richard Falk, “Trusting Khomeini, ” The New York Times, February 16, 1979. http://bit.ly/1coIBJM
p12. Maxime Rodinson, “The Western Image and Western Studies of Islam,” in The Legacy of Islam, edited by Joseph Schacht, with C.E. Bosworth, 1974, London, p. 59.
p14. Elliot Abrams, “A Misleading Cold War Analogy—Don’t count on containing Iran,” The Weekly Standard, February 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 22 http://tws.io/1aNr2Dm
p20. Robert Conquest, The Dragons of Expectation—Reality and Delusion in the Course of History, 2005, New York/London, p. 135.
p21. Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida,” March 8, 1983 http://bit.ly/1hqbwfj
p22. Andrew Bostom, “Whittaker Chambers, Communism, and Islam,” in Andrew Bostom, Sharia Versus Freedom, 2012, Amherst, N.Y., p. 500.
p24. Abrams, “A Misleading Cold War Analogy—Don’t count on containing Iran”